How sustainable is Foster + Partners' new airport?

It might sound like an oxymoron, but that's what the Pritzker-laureate’s firm is proposing for Mexico City
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Mexico International Airport by Foster + Partners and  Fernando Romero Enterprise
Mexico International Airport by Foster + Partners and Fernando Romero Enterprise

Air travel is often described as one of the key contributors to climate change. Yet Foster + Partners, perhaps Britain’s most famous architectural practice, appears to found a way to accommodate Mexico City’s rising passenger numbers while maintaining remarkably high environmental stands. The practice teamed up with local architect Fernando Romero to win the competition to design a massive 470,000 square metre terminal for Mexico’s predicted passenger upsurge.

 

Mexico International Airport by Foster + Partners and  Fernando Romero Enterprise
Mexico International Airport by Foster + Partners and Fernando Romero Enterprise

To avoid energy-sapping on-site construction, the structure will be both light-weight and prefabricated. What’s more, the terminal will produce some of its own energy as there will be systems installed for rainwater collection and for harnessing sunlight. It will be cooled for much of the year with natural ventilation, rather than the usual air conditioning. Meanwhile, natural light will seep through the translucent glass and steel gridshell of the vaulted walls and roof.

In fact, the proposal for a single terminal is in itself eco-friendly, as one building uses fewer materials and less power than multiple structures. As Pritzker Prize-winner Norman Foster says, the airport will be “like nothing else in the world”.

 

Mexico International Airport by Foster + Partners and  Fernando Romero Enterprise
Mexico International Airport by Foster + Partners and Fernando Romero Enterprise

Foster + Partners is, of course, one of the many high profile architects with specialised pages in our online Phaidon Atlas. Their practice page, which you can see here, features a stunning 23 projects. You can sign up for a free Atlas trial here.


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